The granting by federal authorities of tribal reservation status to Mashpee Wampanoag Indian land in Taunton, Mass. — where the tribe plans a $500 million casino — is a credit negative to nearby Brockton and the southeastern Massachusetts region, said Moody’s Investors Service.
It creates rising uncertainty about whether or not the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will approve a commercial gambling license. Moody’s said Oct. 2. The license would go to a casino developer with a site plan in Brockton, a 94,000-population city less than 30 miles from the Wampanoag location.
“The commercial casino could add over 1,000 jobs and up to $12 million in annual revenue to the city and also benefit neighboring communities,” Moody’s said in a commentary.
Federal authorities made the designation on Sept. 18.
The site in question, called Region C, is the last of three gambling sites designated for casino development within the state’s southeastern region, near the Rhode Island line. Massachusetts Gaming & Entertainment has proposed a $650 million project including slots, table games, restaurants and hotel rooms.
The Brockton developer’s projections that the commercial venture will generate $3 million revenues in fees for the city plus annual payments of $10 million or 2.25% of gaming revenues, whichever is greater, assume no competition from the tribal casino.
Of the three regions created in the 2011 Massachusetts casino legislation, the southeast region has the most to gain economically, said Moody’s. “The region continues to struggle with lingering effects from the recession and substantial new development has been limited in what has historically been a predominantly manufacturing region.”
Brockton, an old shoe-factory city and home to championship boxers Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler, stands to lose the most as the city is struggling to balance its financial position, said Moody’s.
Since 2010, Brockton has experienced five straight years of operating deficits, reducing its available general fund balance to a projected $33.3 million, or 10% of revenues, as of June 30.